02 Feb GS 2004 art 52
GS 2004 Article 52 – CRCA re: The International Conference of Reformed Churches (ICRC)
Committee 3 presented its proposal on the CRCA report re: The International Conference of Reformed Churches (ICRC). After several rounds of discussion, the following was adopted:
- 1.1. Report of the CRCA re: The International Conference of Reformed Churches (ICRC)
- 1.2. Letter from the church at Fergus
- 1.3. Letter from the church at Elora
The report and letters are admissible.
- 3.1. The report of the CRCA re: the ICRC, which is included as an appendix in the Acts, serves as Observations.
- 3.2. The committee recommends that:
- 3.2.1. Synod give a clear answer to the question posed under Consideration 6.4.3 (i.e. whether the decision of Fergus that the CRCA has “to make and support membership recommendations at ICRC for those churches only with which we have official sisterchurch relations” applies to sponsorship or to the actual voting at the Conference).
- 3.2.2. Synod decide to mandate the CRCA:
- 3.2.2. 1. To continue to represent the Canadian Reformed Churches in the ICRC and send a delegation to the Conference scheduled for 2005 in South Africa;
- 188.8.131.52. To inform the Secretary of the ICRC that the Constitution Art. IV.1 should be left unchanged since there are no new grounds;
- 184.108.40.206. To inform the Secretary of the ICRC that issues of concern to the founding churches of the ICRC should be given due attention;
- 220.127.116.11. To submit a Report of the 2005 ICRC to the next Synod, with an evaluation and recommendations.
- 3.3. The CRCA reports that the delegates, especially from the younger churches, expressed concerns that some of the topics were too abstract and did not speak to their situation.
- 3.4. Synod Fergus 1998 mandated the CRCA “to make and support membership recommendations at ICRC for those churches only with which we have official sister-church relations.” The CRCA requests Synod to clarify whether this applies to sponsorship or to the actual voting at the Conference.
- 3.5. The church at Fergus proposes that:
- 3.5.1. Our delegates at the Conference only sponsor those churches with which we have official Ecclesiastical Fellowship.
- 3.5.2. Our delegates at the Conference only vote in favour:
- 18.104.22.168. Of those churches with which we have official Ecclesiastical Fellowship, and
- 22.214.171.124. Of those churches which have been sponsored by two churches with which we are in Ecclesiastical Fellowship.
- 3.5.3. Our delegates abstain from voting when the church is sponsored by the churches with which we have no Ecclesiastical Fellowship.
- 3.6. The church at Elora proposes to reply to the question of the CRCA as follows: “The statement of Synod Fergus 1998 that the CRCA make and support membership recommendations at the ICRC for those churches only with which we have official sister church relations” should apply to both sponsorship and the actual process of voting at the Conference. Elora maintains that whether “sponsoring a church or voting in favour to receive a church, the delegation from our churches is making a statement that the other church in question is a church which is faithful to the Reformed Confessions. This means that the delegation is declaring that Church to be a true Church.”
- 4.1. From the report it is evident that the CRCA fulfilled its mandate re: the ICRC.
- 4.2. There is no disagreement that the decision of Synod Fergus applies to sponsoring for membership. The disagreement arises with regard to voting for membership.
- 4.3. Synod Neerlandia 2001 understood the decision of Fergus to apply to sponsoring only (cf. Acts, Art. 53, Consideration 4.3).
- 4.4. Leaving aside the question of whether the expression “make and support membership” also applies to voting, it must be kept in mind that the ICRC is not an ecclesiastical assembly but a conference. Synod Lincoln 1992 (Acts, Art. 94, pg. 64) accepted the proposal to continue participation in the ICRC for the following reasons:
- 4.4.1. The integrity of our churches is not jeopardized by our being a member of the ICRC;
- 4.4.2. Membership in the ICRC is voluntary and its conclusions are advisory and therefore the Conference does not undermine the Three Forms of Unity;
- 4.4.3. Our participation in the ICRC should be one of full cooperation and continued evaluation;
- 4.4.4. The ICRC is not a super-synod but a conference;
- 4.4.5. the ICRC is a suitable organization for sharing our wealth, experience and manpower with young churches in the “third world.”
- 4.5. To apply the statement of Synod Fergus to voting for membership would make it difficult for our churches to function in the ICRC.
- 4.6. Both the churches at Fergus and Elora maintain that when they vote, our delegation is declaring that church to be a true church. They put sponsoring and voting on the same level. This is not correct. In sponsoring a church, the CRCA indeed makes a statement about that church. Thus, as Synod Fergus correctly noted, sponsoring can only be done when it concerns a sister church. However, voting allows a church to be admitted to the ICRC so that it can be part of the Conference. Thus the decision of Synod Fergus should not prevent our delegation from voting on membership decisions.
- 4.7. Re: the proposal to change Art. IV.1.a. Synod agrees with the recommendation of the CRCA to leave the Constitution unchanged.
- 4.8. Whether the younger churches should have the same opportunity as the established churches to discuss things of relevance to them, is not a matter on which Synod has to make a decision. Rather, this is a matter for the Interim Committee of the ICRC to deal with.
- 5.1. To thank the CRCA for the work done re: the ICRC.
- 5.2. To judge that the decision of Synod Fergus 1998 should not limit the delegates in voting for membership decisions at the Conference.
- 5.3. To mandate the CRCA:
- 5.3.1. To continue to represent the Canadian Reformed Churches in the ICRC and send a delegation to the Conference scheduled for October 12-19, 2005 in South Africa;
- 5.3.2. To inform the Secretary of the ICRC that the Constitution Art. IV.1.a. should be left unchanged since there are no new grounds;
- 5.3.3. To submit a Report of the 2005 ICRC to the next Synod, with an evaluation and recommendations.